By Mark E. Smith
Indeed, many of my friends come to me for relationship advice. No, I’m probably not as tactful as I should be in such conversations, struggling to listen with patience only until I can’t contain my bluntness any longer. For example, one of my best friends explained to me that he was very sick on a first date with a woman who he really wanted to impress – and then he actually threw-up in the car on the date. I certainly could relate, having once dumped a Coke on myself on a date, but I was compelled to skip the sentimental comforts, and go straight for the reality check: “Look at the bright side,” I told him, “ if she goes out with you again after seeing you blow chunks into a bag, she’s a keeper.” As it turned out, they’ve been together ever since, now married.
However, knowing my bluntness, I don’t understand why some of my single friends with disabilities keep confiding in me that they don’t want to date others with disabilities? After all, my response is always the same: “Have you looked in the freakin’ mirror lately?”
Truly, how ludicrous is it to not want to date someone with a disability, when you have a disability, yourself?
I mean, I understand the skewed psychology behind it, that if one’s insecure and uncomfortable with one’s own disability, one is going to be even more insecure and uncomfortable dating someone with a disability, where it’s like looking in a mirror – and, therefore, one avoids dating anyone with a disability. What’s more, in a distorted view, if one refuses to date those with disabilities, and one dates someone who’s able-bodied, then one believes that one’s validating oneself as “less disabled” because an able-bodied person “accepts” him or her.
Yet, this unhealthy dating psychology really stems from self-loathing, doesn’t it? As I tell my friends, it’s Psych 101 that preschoolers can understand: If you can’t accept others with disabilities, then you’re surely not accepting your own disability.
Of course, toward relationships in general, it’s overall self-defeating to form prejudices against others of a particular group, as you’re downsizing the number of potentially-compatible people who you may meet. Surely, if you’re playing by the rules that say that meaningful long-term relationships are about compatibility on many levels – friendship, trust, understanding, intimacy, and so on – then shutting the door on anyone else with a disability isn’t only hypocritical, it lessens one’s potential dating pool, where turning away from others with a disability as potential mates may prevent one from meeting that right person – one who may just so happen to have a disability.
Now, some of my friends argue that they simply aren’t attracted to those with disabilities as a “physical type,” that there’s nothing wrong with being turned off by one “type” or another.
Fair enough, except for one fact: Despite my friends not wanting to date those with disabilities, they still want others to find them attractive, disability and all. In other words, they want others to love what they loath. Let me translate what they’re really saying: I won’t go near anyone with a disability, but you should love me regardless of my disability. Now, that’s dysfunction at its best!
Interestingly, some of my friends even try to present reasons justifying why dating someone else who has a disability isn’t their gig, stating, “It’s just too hard when we both have disabilities, and I wouldn’t want to burden someone with my needs when they have their own.”
As I replied to a male friend, “…But, it would be OK for a smokin’ hot blond, who’s not disabled, to empty your leg bag for you?”
Ultimately, when my date-discriminating friends with disabilities fail to hear my logic, that refusing to date others with disabilities is an absurd, hypocritical, self-defeating position for one with a disability to follow, I fall back on the blunt truth of the situation: If, as one with a disability, you’re so dysfunctional in your outlook that you’re put-off by others with disabilities, you shouldn’t date anyone until you are truly comfortable in your own skin. In catchy words, as one with a disability, you shouldn’t date unless your head’s on straight. But, then again, that goes for anyone, regardless of disability.